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We love to talk all things books, sharing reviews, features, lists, interviews and more, all penned by our team of six writers.

Getting lost in a book is escapism at it's finest and it's what everyone who contributes here thrives on.

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Saturday, 29 July 2017

Group Collaboration | Why YA is important

It's no secret that we love a bit of Young Adult fiction here at Blogger's Bookshelf!

When we first ran this post topic 2016, our focus was on building a list of our favourite YA novels.

The Young Adult fiction landscape has shifted and grown dramatically since then and we thought this month's group post would be a great opportunity to find out why our bloggers feel this particular genre is still so important both to them and for the book community as a whole.

Check out their answers below!




Next month's group post topic is Around the World with Blogger's Bookshelf! If you'd like to get involved email us bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com or keep an eye out on our Twitter page for more information.

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Friday, 28 July 2017

The Wish Granter | C.J. Redwine | Review

Image from Goodreads.

The Story 


Thad and Arianna Glavan's mother was murdered, they don't know who their father is, and they've been thrown out of the city, hunted by the royal family and left to fend for themselves. When the royal family mysteriously dies, they return to the kingdom and Thad takes over the throne. Arianna, who doesn't care for nobility or being a princess, soon learns that Thad's ascension was no mere strike of luck. He made a deal with a Wish Granter called Alistair Teague who conned Thad into wishing for his and Ari's safety and the crown.

But Thad has wished away his soul, and now Arianna is fighting like anything to break the wish and get Thad's soul back. Sebastian, the new weapons master, teaches Ari to fight, and together they learn more about Teague's criminal goings-on in the kingdom. Teague though, knows Ari's weaknesses, and soon Ari and Sebastian find themselves in a horrific position that looks more dire by the day.

My Thoughts


The Wish Granter was a great retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. Although the story line I've just tried to outline for you doesn't really have the Rumpelstiltskin-feel we might be use to, Teague's character is definitely evil, cunning, and everything you expect a Rumpelstiltskin-like character to be. Think The Dark One/Mr.Gold when he's evil from Once Upon A Time.

Ari was a great main character. She was funny, but stern, courageous but smart about what should scare her. She stood up for what she believed in and for others around her, even if they didn't deserve it. Thad was a bit of a flake, but every story needs one, and Teague was your typical bad-guy villain wanting to take over the world. Sebastian was brilliant, and while it was obvious (don't worry, it's not a spoiler if it's obvious right?) that he and Ari would fall in love, it was beautifully written.

Speaking of writing, I do love the way Redwine tells a story. She has the knack for taking stories that many are already familiar with and spinning them into something new and exciting. (I just made a pun without realising it - spinning...as in spinning things to gold...like Rumpelstiltskin? No? Okay.)

This is actually the second in her Ravenspire series, however you don't need to have read the first, The Shadow Queen. There are several references to the first book in The Wish Granter, but it's no biggy if you read them out of order. The next in the series is called The Traitor Prince, which is going to be 'based on old Arabian tale called The False Prince with a dash of The Prince and the Pauper' according to C.J. Redwine on Goodreads. It's due for release next year.

If you like YA novels, with a fantasy, or fairy tale twist, then pick up The Wish Granter. It's a fun, quick read, and I really enjoyed it.
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Monday, 24 July 2017

Coding Projects in Python | DK |Review

*Image and book provided by NetGalley for an honest review

Summary:

As it says on the cover, this is a step-by-step visual guide to coding in Pythons. Meant for younger audiences, but why should they get all the fun stuff? 

Review:

This was actually a very well thought out book. I certainly learned a lot and wouldn't mind using this as a quick reference tool or as a supplement to a coding class. The visuals make everything easy to follow and, since it's a book, you can go at your own pace. If anything seems to difficult or you can't follow what they're saying, they have complete codes in the references section of the book. I highly recommend this for anyone who doesn't learn coding well in traditional settings. Or, if you're looking for a project to do with your kids, this book would be a great way for both you and your child to learn while having fun.
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Friday, 21 July 2017

Features | My Favourite Books of 2017 So Far


I don't even want to think about the fact that we're already over half way through 2017 but what I am perfectly happy to think about are all the great books I've read so far this year! For today I've chosen just the top five books I've read in the first half of the year to share with you and I'd love to hear your favourite books of the year so far in the comments!

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumour has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from.
Rebel of the Sands is the kind of story that made me want to read it all at once, and I almost did. If you're looking for a fast paced story with an interesting fantasy world and a kick-butt female protagonist then you can't go wrong with this one.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Taken from the poverty of her parents' home, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with only her cousin Edmund as an ally. When Fanny's uncle is absent in Antigua, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive in the neighbourhood, bringing with the London glamour and a reckless taste for flirtation.
Mansfield Park was one of the few Austen works that I went into knowing very little about it and I was incredibly pleasantly surprised. If you've read and enjoyed any of Austen's other novels but have yet to read this one, don't put it off any longer!

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he'll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist.
Six of Crows is a fantasy novel about a plucky gang of convicts and misfits on an impossible heist. I knew I would love it before I even looked at the first page. This novel has adventure and interesting characters in spades. And the sequel is even better.

Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between world. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had.
I know Wing Jones is set in the 90s but I was alive then so please let me call it a contemporary novel... Wing Jones is hands down the best contemporary YA novel I've read so far this year. It's a story full of sadness, and hope, and magic, and running. If you want to find out more you can read my full review of it here.

Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link
Through the lens of Link's vivid imagination, nothing is what it seems, and everything deserves a second look. 
Pretty Monsters is a collection of YA short stories where everything is just a little off. From a boy who digs up the wrong body, to an entire village living in an old woman's handbag, or a magical girl trailed by ghosts, these stories are all unique and interesting little glimpses into other worlds.
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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Features | My illustrated Harry Potter editions

Recently, I was looking to kill some time in town. Somehow or another, I found myself in my local Waterstone’s, browsing amongst the books, like I usually do. Or at least that was the plan. 

Instead, I found myself swept up in some sort of party. There were owl races, wand-making classes and house quizzes. It was the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and my local bookshop was making sure the town was celebrating. As I watched all of the families around me share the love for the wizarding world, I found myself getting swept up in the enthusiasm all over again. I remember how much I loved the hype while I was waiting for the books and films to be released. Harry Potter was a pretty big part of my childhood so it was great to see that the magic remains for other people too.


It made me want to experience the magic all over again. I’m planning a major re-read in the next couple of months, now that I’m done with my degree and have a little more free time on my hand.


In the meantime, however, I’ve been taking my time to flick through my illustrated editions of Harry Potter. And then I decided that these were too beautiful not too share!


I have both Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in the stunning illustrated copies and I just can’t get enough of them. I love seeing someone’s vision of the wizarding world come to life. Even if saw some of the characters a little differently in my head, I still love these editions.


Of course, this is just another edition of a story that I’ve read once or twice before but I think it’s such a lovely way to get something new out the world of Hogwarts.


While I may only have the first two right now, I am hoping to collect the rest of them when they are released. Surely I can’t be the only one who buys more than one edition of the same book, just because they love it? Right?

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Guest Review | Book Scavenger | Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Guest Review | Book Scavenger | Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

Book Scavenger 1

Hi! I'm Monique, from SkeletonWeirdo.– 4 years ago I switched from reading Dutch translations to reading English books, and ever since that moment I have been devouring a lot of middle-grade novels. (I even read ‘Book Scavenger’ twice in the last 3 months.) So, when I was searching for the first WM bookclub entry, ‘Book Scavenger’ was thé absolute favorite… – Although, I might’ve spoiled how I feel about this book with the little bit of information above.

Book Scavenger
Written by: Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
354 pages


12-year-old Emily has moved again. Her parents are on a quest to live in all 50 US states, and this time they’re relocating to San Fransisco – the home of her literary idol; Mr Garrison Griswold.
Mr Griswold is a famous, well-loved book publisher and the creator of Book Scavenger, a game where books are books are hidden all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles.
When Emily only just arrives in her new town, she learns that Griswold has been attacked, and is in a coma. No-one knows anything about the epic new game he was about to launch… But than Emily, and her new friend James, discover an odd book – which they believe to be from Griswold. Soon they start to find a bunch of clues that set them off on a book quest like no other.
But there are others on the hunt for this particular book, and Emily and James must race to solve the puzzles that Griswold has left behind, before Griswold’s attackers make them their next target…

Book

Before ‘Book Scavenger’, I never really read middle-grade books. Since ‘Book Scavenger’ I’ve been buying 10s of books in the so-called; ‘people who bought this, also bought this’ section. This book would’ve been THÉ absolute favorite for 12-year-old me, and let’s be 100% honest here; it’s THÉ absolute favorite for 23-year-old me as well!
There are ciphers, puzzles, codes, riddles and bits of literary history – all woven into a mystery-filled plot. It’s just SO much fun!.. But, even if we set aside all those marvellous assets for a little bit; the wonderful characters are what keeps the story strong. Everyone seems a bit quirky, geeky, creepy and definitely fascinating.

‘Book Scavenger’ isn’t just well-written, Jennifer Chambliss Bertman has created some of the BEST details I’ve ever read in books. It would’ve been so easy to just repeat the same riddles or codes, but that never happens. Not even once! – She keeps surprising with new, brilliant quests!
Book Scavenger is the Pokéman-Go for book nerds and puzzle-fanatics. (basically… ME!) – I wish it was a real thing.
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Monday, 10 July 2017

Cupcakes, Trinkets and Other Deadly Magic | Meghan Ciana Doidge | Review


Summary:

Jade is a half-witch who owns a bakery. She doesn't really have much magic, not compared to Gran and her mom, but her magic is unique. She can sense other magic. Then again, living in Vancouver, there isn't much magic around so she doesn't get to exercise it a lot. Imagine her surprise when she senses a vampire at the door to her cupcake shop. That very same night, she senses an entire pack of werewolves on the dance floor with her. There's something going on to draw all these magical Adepts to Vancouver. Unfortunately, she didn't know how much it would revolve around her.

Review:

I was worried this was going to be a paranormal romance, of which I'm not the biggest fan. There was some hinting at it, but it ultimately turned into a nice murder mystery with paranormal goings on. If I read any more of the series, I know it will become a paranormal romance, so I'll just focus on this book, which I did enjoy.

I really liked reading this story from Jade's perspective. She isn't the smartest protagonist I've read, but she's got plenty of common sense that kept me from being frustrated. I can even understand her turning a blind eye to the evidence of who the killer is (though it is pretty obvious). Yes, the book has some sexual undertones, but she's able to make it take a back seat to the important stuff. Like surviving. And not getting bled by a hungry vampire. Or letting her magic get used to destroy others. You know, the important things.

This book has a delightfully simple aspect to it that I greatly appreciated. It all takes place in one town over just a few days. There's no out-of-nowhere surprises. There's no gimmicky explanations. There's no inconsistent character development. The book, the characters, the setting, the plot are all presented as is and I loved that! This is definitely an intriguing world.

If you would like to read a paranormal mystery, maybe a paranormal romance series, I really do recommend this. It's so charming!
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Friday, 7 July 2017

Piglettes | Clementine Beauvais | Review


Mireille, Astrid and Hakima have just been voted the three ugliest girls in school by their classmates on Facebook. But does that mean they're going to sit around crying about it?
Well... yes, a bit, but not for long!

Mireille is used to the Pig Pageant, organised by her classmate Malo every year. If anything, she's simply disappointed that this year she has only been voted the third ugliest girl in school, instead of getting her usual first place. Astrid and Hakima however, are both new to the school and to the pageant and not finding it so easy to accept their titles. When Mireille meets her fellow winners and the local newspaper reports on the Pig Pageant without speaking to any of them, Mireille begins to hatch a plan that will bring the focus very sharply back to the three piglettes.

A garden party being held by the French President gives the girls a common goal. For Mireille it will be a chance to meet her father, for Hakima a chance to make right the injustice done to her brother, Kader, in the French army that meant the loss of his legs, and for Astrid simply a chance to meet her favourite band of all time. For all of them it is a chance to show that there are more important things in life than being voted the most ugly girl at school. So, accompanied by Kader, the girls set off to cycle to Paris, crash a garden party, and sell sausages out of an old trailer to pay their way.

Piglettes is a charming and hilarious book that deals with a pretty serious issue. Bullying has always been a problem in schools, of course, but now with the anonymity and immediacy of the internet, it's easier than ever for those bullies to hit their mark and, as the headteacher at Mireille's school points out, it's very difficult for schools to deal with bullying that takes place online.

Mireille, however, has the perfect way of dealing with her tormentors. She just doesn't see them that way. Mireille has a wicked sense of humour that at times genuinely made me laugh out loud, and even she admits that it's a coping mechanism. She tries to teach the other girls that this is how they must deal with Malo and the others too, that they have to just laugh and make jokes and not let it get to them because it really doesn't mean anything. Hakima understands this, at least. When Mireille and Astrid meet her for the first time, she is the one who tells them there are more important things in the world, like the fact that the general who sent Kader into the mission where he was injured, is about to be awarded the Legion of Honour.

So when they come up with their plan to cycle to Paris and sell sausages along the way, it really isn't about revenge, although that's what Malo assumes. It isn't about him or the pageant. It isn't really even about the fact that now, far from ignoring the three girls, the local paper is desperate to cover every leg of their journey. It's about these three girls becoming friends, having an adventure, helping each other to achieve their goals, and learning to really, truly, not care if other people think they're ugly. This is an uplifting story, guaranteed to make you giggle.

Beauvais handles the issues in this book with a light hand and an excellent sense of humour and I would definitely recommend it to all teenage girls and anyone else who wants a truly fun and funny read about friendship, growing up, and selling sausages in the French countryside.
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Tuesday, 4 July 2017

The Mists of Avalon | Marion Zimmer Bradley | Review

You may have noticed in one of my previous posts that I recently decided to crack on with my biggest read in a long time. My edition of the book had a little over 1000 pages which, for someone who has mainly been reading short stories and poetry recently, seemed like a major challenge. It certainly took me longer than I expected to read it!

Even if it took me a little while, I’m so glad that I took the time to read it as it was well worth it. The Mists of Avalon is a retelling of the King Arthur myth, with a focus on the often neglected women in the story. Arthur, Lancelot and Merlin take to the sidelines while Guinevere, Igraine, and Morgaine are allowed to tell their stories. Not only must they deal with the changing fate of Camelot, and the increasing prominence of Christianity, but they face a  host of problems just for being women.

Marion Zimmer Bradley, the author of The Mists of Avalon, certainly doesn’t shy away from the unappealing realities of life as a woman in a feudal society.  Each of the characters that the novel tracks deals with more than their fair share of hardship and suffering. I couldn’t decide who I was rooting for the most throughout the entire story, though I loved the way the various narratives wove in and out of one another. It made it one of the most imaginative arthurian retellings that I have read in recent years. Though each of the twists were novel and creative, they worked so well with what you expect from a story about King Arthur and his court. In fact, it made it painfully obvious just how little we usually hear from women such as Morgaine.

While that might have been part of what drew me to The Mists of Avalon, I stayed for the brilliantly complex characters and the epic adventures they faced. I never knew what would happen next as each chapter drew to a close; I was hooked to see what would unfold.


Though it’s without a doubt a hefty read, I would definitely recommend The Mists of Avalon if you’re looking a imaginative and creative take on Arthurian legends.
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